training theory


If Tonka were a dog, I’d say that he has perfect loose leash walking manners.   Once in awhile, when he lags behind, I gently pull on his halter and he catches up. He doesn’t drag me to grass – he knows graze, head up and let’s go behaviors, which he […]

Walking Past Scary Things


Yesterday I trailered Tonka to meet up with his friend Maggie. Tonka hadn’t seen Maggie for a year, but before that they’d been stabled next to each other and had been paddock-mates. As it’s said time and again, horses are herd animals, so Tonka was bound to be pleased to […]

Horse Friendship and Riding Issues


For me, the joy of riding is that mind-meld that happens when my horse and I are in sync and communication flows between us with subtlety and nuance. To achieve this, not only do I have to listen to and understand what Tonka is saying, but he has to understand me. […]

Saying “Thank You!” From The Saddle



You can train a horse to get on a trailer without balking, but for me, that’s not enough. I want Tonka to get on and have a cheerful, Where to? demeanor. And, I want him to arrive relaxed and ready. That’s asking a lot. Trailering means that Tonka is leaving […]

Happy Horse Trailering


The best trainers, the ones who successfully teach others to do challenging behaviors, do it in a way that gives the learner optimism and keeps them engaged. Frustration is rare and the sense of accomplishment is pervasive. This isn’t because the teacher is a cheerleader that says good job! irregardless […]

Domino Teaching


There’s been a lot of press lately about raising resilient children. Educators and parents are noticing that kids aren’t able to recover from disappointment, or problem-solve solutions to obstacles. A culprit is the trend of adults to jump in and assist during even the smallest of challenges. To instill resiliency, […]

The Resilient Horse



One day last week I was feeling tired and stressed. If the weather had been good, I would have taken Tonka out on a trail. But the weather was not. I could have ridden in the arena. Being in the saddle would have distracted me and the exercise would have […]

Let Your Horse Sniff


Recently, the buzzwords in animal training and welfare are choice and autonomy. The thinking is that the more animals have control over their own lives, the healthier they’ll be emotionally and physically. Certainly, giving the animal an environment in which they can choose their level of comfort – shady or […]

Choice and Autonomy


I am writing this while looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from my room at the Yankee Clipper Inn. I am here for two days with my good friend, Karen Pryor. A couple of times a year we go on these writing retreats. We hole up in our separate rooms […]

Don’t Clicker Train Your Horse. Yet.